Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Flipbook Universe

The universe is a very active place. From the collision of stars and fiery supernovas down to the effervescent fizz of virtual particles that make up the smallest filaments of reality, things are always moving.

The dynamic nature of the universe is almost a given...and yet, is it real? Consider instead the flip book universe:

The flip-book, besides being a strategy in getting through a particularly dry lecture, serves as an interesting model for understanding the universe. It's a two dimension reality that exists within three, the third dimension making the passage of time possible. Each page is static, unchanging. But if you flip the book, creating varying perspectives on the pages, you can observe the arrow of time working its magic.

There are other ways to construct the same phenomena. The movie projector shines light through a series of static images to project them onto another object. Precursors like the kinetoscope would often rotate a cylinder with images, showing one at a time through a slit.

The same phenomena could be creating you and me. Are we really dynamic, three dimensional objects, or are we just fixed features on a higher dimensional rigid object, spinning on its axis, creating the illusion of a passing time? When the universe completes its rotation, will we be back where we started, ready for yet another pass through an unchanging story of life, the universe and everything?

I'm not sure that there are explicit, scientific tests you could run to ever answer the question. The idea may be trapped forever in the realm of philosophy. For any layer of dynamic activity could just be a transcription on a higher dimension. And how could the sketched character, unchanging moment to moment, leave his page to observe the full sketch book?

If it's true, though, I look forward to repeating my experiences with you the next time reality completes its cycle.